Sitting on porch of meditation cabin with cat at cloudy sunrise, red squirrels jitterbug their territory near seed mesh holder hanging from tree. Inside, incense, offered to ancestors and all who have taught us hope, compassion, and charity, swirls to the guidance of breeze. Only breath. Rising. Falling. Temperature has gone from -5F to +50F in a matter of a week.
I've been reading the tale "Geser
of Ling." It is fantastical legend -- the things Geser
is able to do with his body and image of body during his adventures up to the age of 16 when he becomes king, are the stuff of fantasy and metaphoric excess. The imagination has to work hard to keep going with the narrative. (But, then, the fantastic does not always coincide with laws of reason and logic.)
Not so with the news report from further down-east Maine. Authorities think they know the identity of the 17 year old reported missing from home and school.
Divers end search for body of Prospect bridge jumper,
By Walter Griffin
Wednesday, March 14, 2007 - Bangor Daily News
Three witnesses saw the boy jump off the Prospect side of the bridge at approximately 7 p.m. Monday, March 5. They said the boy was not wearing a shirt and had been seen walking down the center lane before going over the side.
One witness told authorities he was driving west toward Prospect and saw a young male without a shirt lying down in the median between the lanes. The man said he stopped his vehicle and watched the youth get up and walk toward the guardrail.
Keating said the witness got within a few feet of the boy and by that time he was on the outboard side of the railing. He said that when he told the boy not to jump, the boy let go. The travel deck of the bridge is 155 feet above the river at high tide, which was at 11:55 p.m. Monday.
The Marine Patrol, U.S. Coast Guard and Bucksport Fire Department rushed to the scene and began a rescue operation. They searched up and down the river for about four hours before suspending the operation. Subzero temperatures kept searchers off the water for the next few days until the weather improved over the weekend.
We learn the height of bridge above water as well as time of high tide that evening of March 5th
. We do not learn, by any external observation, what the young man was jumping from or toward. 'Bridge' and 'water' are names -- geographic references. But we cannot discern yet the mind of the lad, the history of inner thoughts, the moment of decision, the insights during flight.
We are troubled by suicide. Each one of us knows it is an option. We might be saying: "Not for me it's not!" We might note there's good reason for the strong moral and spiritual prohibition -- yet, still, we are riveted by the examples of suicide we so frequently hear about.
For now -- we pray. For him. Family. Peers. Ourselves. For all human beings distraught, for all sentient beings unsafe.
Some see Your form as red like the sun, with rays that are
redder still than the red of minium or red lac;
Others, as beautiful intense blue like a powder of splintered
fragments on the precious stone, sapphire;
Others again as shining like gold, or dazzling white, surpassing
the milk when the Ocean of Milk is churned.
It is a universal form, varied like crystal, since it changes
according to circumstance.
(--from Poet Seers. Sarvajnamitra lived in Kashmir in the 8th Century AD. He was a Tantric Buddhist.)
Back in my room in solitude, the book on Tibetan Folk Tales falls open to a familiar story with capitalized final line cautionary note.
The Monkeys & the Moon
Once, in the distant past, there was a band of monkeys. They lived in a forest, and in the forest was a well. One night, the leader of the band of monkeys peered into the well, and seeing the reflection of the moon in the water, said:
"Look! The moon has fallen into the well; we ought to get it out or our world will be without a moon."
The other monkeys looked into the well and saw that it was indeed so. "Yes," they agreed. "We should certainly get the moon out of the well."
So the monkeys formed a chain, each holding onto the tail of the one before, while the monkey at the top of the chain held onto a branch to support them.
The branch began to bend under the weight of the monkeys as they lowered themselves into the well, and soon began to crack. The water was disturbed and the reflection of the moon disappeared, the branch broke, and the monkeys tumbled headlong into the well.
WHEN THE UNWISE HAVE AN UNWISE LEADER THEY ARE ALL LED TO RUIN. (--p.96, in Tibetan Folk Tales, by Frederick and Audrey Hyde-Chambers, c.2001)
Ours is a curious and disturbing time. Our time, with its distraught and dismayed populace either receiving the pain of war, or giving it -- with terrifying examples of destruction and corruption -- begs for, longs for wisdom. We need wisdom to emerge from our distracted and distant attention to assist us on our pilgrimage.
Some think that everything is a political wager -- a sides-taking gamble where, if the horse you back comes in first, that's all that counts. (Go to window, collect your winnings, no need to question anything.)
Our experiment with democracy delimits to questions like: Who will win? Who will assert power? Who will emerge with the prize?
Representational government (a good notion) devolves into cash and carry -- whoever pays the most money wins favor, (despite popular call to work and legislate equally on behalf each and all.) Even our image of a Supreme Court has become clouded by leftright leftright leftright
appointments with pre
-set ideology, and not on intelligent, sagacious, and pragmatic consideration of the matters brought for deliberation.
It is time to attend to a spiritual need more profound than the petty scorecard we keep by our chairs as we spectate the turns and flats of horse races. From premature presidential campaigns to troublesome presidential pronouncements about ghastly circumstances in a war maiming and killing without sane end in sight -- we are bombarded with political (and only political) handicapping -- and all too seldom with insightful and judicious conversation extending beyond pithy talking points of the day. We, the citizenry, are under-willed. We are wanting in the arenas of civics and governance. We are equally wanting in the realms of spirituality and personal depth.
Pundits, whether political or pastoral, want to tell us what to do. They often fail to invite us into who we are. We need to step aside -- we need to consider carefully the alarming and liberating mystery of who we are and what we are doing. It is a quest into the heart of being.
Some of the anger foisted against anyone questioning the current warlike behavior and continuing presence of the US in Iraq appears to resemble the anger we experience when we know death is coming and we feel a need to lash out at everything and everyone near the news of it.
That anger is also sorrow -- a sorrow we might have been wrong. There is (or should be) an equal sorrow we might have been right, but, O, the suffering involved! There is no joy with war. Even the most hard-bitten among us know that only sorrow and loss result from war. No ideology softens suffering. We have to travel to a more profound place -- a path leading to deep roots in dark ground of human experience -- only there do we get an inkling of authentic heart/mind .
From the book addressed to Autolycus by Saint Theophilus of Antioch, bishop
Blessed are the clean of heart, for they will see God
If you say, “Show me your God”, I will say to you, “Show me what kind of person you are, and I will show you my God”. Show me then whether the eyes of your mind can see, and the ears of your heart hear.
It is like this. Those who can see with the eyes of their bodies are aware of what is happening in this life on earth. They get to know things that are different from each other. They distinguish light and darkness, black and white, ugliness and beauty, elegance and inelegance, proportion and lack of proportion, excess and defect. The same is true of the sounds we hear: high or low or pleasant. So it is with the ears of our heart and the eyes of our mind in their capacity to hear or see God.
(--from Office of Readings, Wednesday of the 3rd week of Lent)
The hermit's vocation is to enter the heart of being. It is sometimes a fearful visitation. Noise fades. Distinct sound emerges. Each thing, each being is clearly itself. The business (and busyness) of distraction is set aside for a while. We are faced with something clear. The experience is more like no-experience. More like actual...conveying.
There is a stillness that is a keyhole. You are the key.
What does it mean to enter the heart of being?
Turn yourself slowly.
Feel the tumbler fall.
Take a breath.